Frankie Mancini / Gavel Media

The Gavel's 2019 Final Four Predictions

After a wild March Madness that saw buzzer beaters, busted brackets, and plenty of upsets, we're finally down to the final four teams. On the men's side of NCAA Basketball, Michigan State, Texas Tech, Virginia, and Auburn have emerged from their regions to reach the Final Four. Will Tom Izzo lead the Spartans to a championship? Can Virginia take the crown just a year after a historic defeat at the hands of a No. 16 seed? Virginia takes on Auburn and Michigan State plays Texas Tech tomorrow evening, with the winners meeting in the championship on Monday in Minneapolis.

Patrick Carpenter: It's been a March Madness to remember. As of the elite eight, my bracket is completley busted. So now, I'm just hoping for some good games. In the first game, I think Virginia will take down Auburn to reach the final. Though they aren't flashy, Virginia has finally shown this year that they have the consistency to win in the tournament. And their victory over Purdue proved that they have the ability to finish in a close game. On the other side, Tom Izzo and the Spartans will take care of Texas Tech. Riding a huge victory over the mighty Duke, Michigan State isn't going to let the Red Raiders stand in their way. The Mighigan State - Virginia final will be a close matchup, but I think Cassius Winston will lead the Spartans to a National Championship.

National Champion: Michigan State

Zach Stern: Auburn has looked flat-out dominant since their close call with New Mexico State in the first round, dismantling No. 1 seed North Carolina en route to a final four berth. On the other hand, Virginia has been playing too close for large stretches of the game and that will finally come back to bite them this round. Auburn wins a close one. Michigan State’s talent proves far too much for Jarrett Culver and Co. as Texas Tech’s Cinderella story ends at the final four. Michigan State wins comfortably. In the final, Tom Izzo’s coaching and experience play a big factor in this one, as Michigan State’s rebounding prowess proves too much for the Okeke-less Tigers. Michigan State wins their third national championship.

National Champion: Michigan State

Tommy O’Brien: Finally, we got some upsets.  Following a first weekend where the top three seeds from every region advanced to the Sweet 16, many of the heavyweights were toppled.  Now we’re left with a No. 1 seed on a redemption tour after last year’s historic defeat (UVA), two schools who are about to play in their first ever Final Four (Auburn and Texas Tech), and the team that ousted Zion (Michigan State).  Texas Tech’s storied run will end here as Tom Izzo’s big game experience will put him through to the final. While Virginia’s Tony Bennett doesn’t have the same NCAA Tournament experience, this team has been consistently great all year.  In the final, Virginia’s backcourt of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome will be too much for Michigan State to handle. Prediction: Virginia 63, Michigan State 58.

National Champion: Virginia

Emma Twombly: Despite Texas Tech taking out my winner Gonzaga last Saturday, I think Michigan State will still be riding high enough after their takedown of Duke to beat Texas Tech on Saturday. As for Auburn versus Virginia, I’m taking Auburn the underdog to pull off yet another big upset on the road to the championship game. For Monday night’s NCAA Championship, I think Michigan State will take the win over Auburn.

National Champion: Michigan State

Lillie Clifton: I feel like the words “there goes my bracket” were uttered by many on the night of Duke’s loss, including myself. For the first game of the Final Four, I think that Virginia’s defense will ultimately be able to hold back Auburn’s offense on Saturday night. As for Texas Tech v. Michigan State, Jarrett Culver will deliver against the Spartans to earn a victory for the Red Raiders.

National Champion: Virginia

Matt DeMerlis: The first matchup of the final four, UVA vs. Auburn, will ultimately come down to how well UVA plays defensively against the formidable attack of the Auburn three-point barrage. Auburn has continued their momentum after winning the SEC Tournament and has exceeded every challenge they’ve come across, including outlasting a strong defensive team in Kentucky last weekend. I think they will continue that momentum and defeat the Cavaliers to head to the National Championship. The second matchup will certainly be close. I think Michigan State will pull away thanks to incredible guard play from Cassius Winston and experienced coaching from Tom Izzo (though, all credit must be given to Chris Beard for bringing the Red Raiders to the Final Four). In the championship, Auburn will take home the title against Michigan State after a career performance from Bryce Brown, cementing their Cinderella legacy in the history books.

National Champion: Auburn

Brennan Rietzke: Of all the teams left, Auburn matches up best with Virginia. While Virginia loves to slow play and limit opposing shots, Auburn pushes the ball and tries to force turnovers. The loss of Okeke will seriously hurt Auburn’s chances of scoring in the paint against Virginia’s impressive rotation of big men. Virginia’s perimeter defense will do enough to limit the three-pointer and they will comfortably halt Auburn’s upset bid.  Michigan State and Texas Tech will be a battle between two of the top defenses in the country. The game will be decided by the team with the best shot creators. Culver and Mooney have been incredible for Texas Tech, but Cassius Winston and Michigan State’s veteran depth give them the edge. Spartans win in a nail-biter. Michigan State will take on Virginia in the championship. The championship will be contested between two powerhouse programs. Both teams are spectacular on both ends off the floor, but coaching and experience will decide the winner. Izzo and Michigan State edge the inexperience of Virginia on the big stage in a low-scoring thriller.

National Champion: Michigan State

Jake McNeill: Jarrett Culver will carry Texas Tech past Michigan State on Saturday, giving the Red Raiders their first ever championship appearance. On the other side of the bracket, Auburn has been hot, but the loss of Chuma Okeke and the depth of UVA’s starting five will simply be too much to overcome. The Cavaliers will go on to take home the chip on Monday night behind the best defense in the country and the best offense they’ve had in the Tony Bennett era.

National Champion: Virginia

Andy Towriss: After my bracket finally busted in the elite eight, I’m free to pick whomever I’d like (though still very upset). I have a hard time imagining the slow and steady Virginia outlasting the Auburn Tigers. I also don’t think Michigan State falls to Texas Tech after putting on quite the show against Duke. In the championship, I think Auburn’s miracle run comes to an end as the experience of Tom Izzo and the Spartans outlasts the passion of Bruce Perry and the Tigers.

National Champion: Michigan State

Joe Birdsall: After Duke, Kentucky, and Gonzaga were upset in the Elite Eight, it feels like this Final Four is wide open. Auburn’s matchup with Virginia will be marked by opposite playing styles, as Auburn prefers to play fast while Virginia employs a lethargic tempo. Ultimately, Virginia will be able to control the pace, and the absence of Chuma Okeke will sink the Tigers. Meanwhile, Texas Tech and Michigan State will likely engage in a back-and-forth affair, but Jarrett Culver’s brilliance should ultimately push the Red Raiders into the national title game. Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Deandre Hunter will likely give Texas Tech all it can handle, giving the Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers a long-overdue national title.

National Champion: Virginia

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